Winston Churchill once said it was ill-advised to prophesize in advance – that it was ‘’much better policy’’ to do so after an event had already taken place. I couldn’t agree more.
Unfortunately, as with other Churchillian talents – like working in bed – not everyone can pull off the art of making predictions after the fact.
This article isn’t about making conclusions on the athletes that’ll be the spotlights in the 100m like most bloggers and pundits do, just count me among the optimists who still try to guess what the future may hold. Among other things, there’s a lot less pressure to be right.
Here’s the first series on what I think everyone can expect in Nigeria’s men’s 100m for 2019. Feel free to counter the predictions, but if things don’t go as predicted, don’t hold me accountable.
The Fantastic Five
Year 2018 proved to be a defining moment in Nigerian athletics. Among many reasons, the season sprung out young breakout athletes in both men and women’s category, thereby raising the competitive level in all events and automatically their individual IAAF ranks.
In the past few years, the men’s 100m was an easy prediction in determining Nigeria’s fastest man, with the top 2 always almost constant. However, that is definitely going to change this season having four or perhaps five athletes currently able to take the title barring unforeseen circumstances.
Divine Oduduru (10.10s), Seye Ogunlewe (10.19s), Enoch Adegoke (10.19s), Ogho Egwero (10,19s) and Usheoritse Itsekiri (10.27s), ran these times last year and therefore have equal chances of winning.
Ogunlewe, on paper is the country’s fastest man having won the event in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Ironically, a peaceful protest by athletes on the first day of the National Championships last year, led to the cancellation of proceedings by the AFN thus him not having an opportunity at gunning for a fourth title.
However, he still proved to lead the charts with his 4th and 5th place finishes at the Commonwealth Games and African Championships respectively, the highest placings by a Nigerian 100m runner at all international competitions last year.
Oduduru, is NCAA 200m Champion and his 100m time is the fastest by a Nigerian on the IAAF rank, and fastest since 2015.
If the Texas Tech student decides to make his way down for the National Championships, Ogunlewe will surely have shivers down his feet on being defeated.
Adegoke, without an iota of doubt proved last season he’s a championship runner when not nursing an injury. His 2018 report card presents: Commonwealth finalist, West African University Games (WAUG) Champion, National Sports Festival (NSF) Bronze medallist, and on times average the best home sprinter.
He takes his championship confidence to the Nationals once again this year, then he can be bet upon on having another title to his growing list in his young career.
Itsekiri is one athlete that cannot be written off for a win when fully fit. Against all odds, he surprisingly won the NSF title dropping his times through the rounds before the eventual victory.
Officially he should be called 2018 Nigeria’s fastest man, considering the sports festival was the only National competition held last year. Who says he can’t seal it off and make it two consecutive National titles in less than a year?
Egwero, may be an old wine but the most experienced in the league surely has a way of refuelling his speed and strength when it matters.
The former national champion enjoys not being the focus point pre-championship, but always manages to finish in top 3 most times. He was close to winning the NSF title with a 2nd place finish, he has the experience to take it one step higher this time.
That said, while some Churchillian addicts may stick to their guns and reiterate predictions and conclusions should be left until after the race as a major upset may arise, I’ll stick with being anti-Churchill – Nigeria will have her 2019 fastest man from any of these fantastic five!